Talofa Airways Twin Commander 690B Photo: © Talofa Airways

MIAMI – Samoa-based Talofa Airways has been awarded an exemption by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) to provide domestic service between Pago Pago International Airport (PPG) and airports in the Manu’a Islands of American Samoa.

Service will begin on October 26 with two daily flights on weekday-only services using the Turbo Commander 690B while not yet elaborating on which airports in the Manu’a Islands, either Ofu (OFU), Fitiuta (FTI), or Tau (TAV).

The exemption by the DOT, granted on a trial basis, will run through November 24, 2020.

Talofa Airways Twin Commander registered 5W-JMJ at Fagali’i Airport, Apia, Samoa Photo: By Sione Tielu / Talofa Airways – Wiki Commons

A Crucial Service

In the south Pacific, air connectivity is crucial for local populations for both services and supplies. With domestic services by Samoa Airways’ (OL) DHC-6-300s suspended since July 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, American Samoa was in need of an airline.

“We were persuaded that the longstanding absence of US carrier passenger service in the market at issue, along with the assertions made on the record by multiple representatives of the Government of American Samoa that an additional foreign air carrier’s services are necessary to meet the critical transportation needs of American Samoa, constitute an emergency created by unusual circumstances not arising in the normal course of business,” the DOT said in a statement.

While the exception would be voided if an American carrier were to enter the market, such is a move is unlikely considering the collapse of Inter Island Airways in 2014.

Currently connecting PPG to Apia Faleolo International (APW) in Samoa and Tongatapu Fau’amotu International (TBU) in Tonga, Talofa Airways is set to provide crucial connectivity within the domestic market of American Samoa.

Featured image: Talofa Airways Twin Commander 690B Photo: © Talofa Airways